Learning Patience in the Midst of Childbirth

Don’t mistake God’s patience for His absence.
His timing is perfect and His presence is constant. He’s always with you!

Natural & Positive Birth Story

Dreaming Of a "perfectly Timed" Birth

It’s the middle of the night. A deep belly cramp wakes me. A contraction! I feel a smile creep across my face as this can only mean one thing: the birth of my baby girl is imminent! 

Taking a deep breath, I try my best to relax, Get some rest. You’re going to need it. My inner self reminds me as I close my eyes attempting to drift back into sleep. Some time passes by until I feel another contraction. Being my second pregnancy, I know these are easy compared to what’s to come. 

Get some rest, I tell myself again. 

As I lay there in the darkness, my mind becomes restless. Don’t waste these contractions. I remember all of the knowledge concerning labor and birth. Every contraction is a step towards the delivery of this baby.

Feeling too overwhelmed to sleep soundly, I decide to be productive with my time. Without waking my love or our toddler (who has been climbing into bed every night lately), I creep out of the bedroom to begin my labor circuit. The clock says that it’s a little after 4 am. I drink some raspberry leaf tea, sit on my birthing ball, and put on my headphones for a hypnobirthing session

I envision my perfect birth scenario: 

My love calmly drives me to the birthing center where I labor for no more than two hours. When it’s time to push, I quietly breathe my baby out into the soothing water for a swift hypno-water birth experience. As my love cradles our newborn and me in his arms, we notice the morning sun rays gently penetrating through the window sills. All is well. 

Sitting on the birthing ball with my eyes still closed, I enjoy watching this impeccable birth fantasy play out.   

Sweet Bundle of Nerves

Time passes quickly. Before long, my love is awake and comes to check on me. He understands that early contractions have started, but are not that intense yet. We don’t want to make the mistake of heading to the birthing center too early. Though hesitant to leave for work, he is assured that I will be fine. Before leaving, he tells me to get some rest. 

Stewing with restlessness, I begin doing laundry, dishes, dusting, vacuuming, and anything else I can think of to get my mind off the delivery to come. My toddler and I play with bubbles in the backyard. 

Still no huge change in contractions. 

My love comes home for lunch, letting me know he has taken the remainder of the day off. We spend the afternoon getting smoothies, driving around, and watching movies. 

I try my best to relax and enjoy the moment, but the contractions every five minutes keep pulling me back to the thought of labor. Please come soon, I quietly request of my unborn daughter. 

As evening approaches, the contractions progress and the midwife on-call is notified. Meanwhile, my mom picks up our toddler for the night. Everyone is so sure that I am going to give birth very soon and very quickly. 

The pressure to get labor going faster overwhelms my thoughts. 

My love reassures me to stay calm and focus on something else. With the house empty, we decide to whip out a date-night box from Crated with Love. This may be our last chance to have some alone time for a while. 

Ten o’clock rolls around as the fatigue begins to set in. The midwife suggests that we try to get some sleep as there might be a long night ahead of us.

Heading to the Birth Center

A strong contraction wakes me up. The surge of anxiety and excitement jolts me out of bed and onto the birthing ball. My love soon follows. The clock shows that it is a little after 3 am. For the next couple of hours, I implement every labor-inducing exercise I can think of. 

Contractions are coming every three to four minutes now. Eventually, my love, who has been in contact with the midwife on call, informs me that she recommends we come in. If this labor was anything like the first, I would be giving birth before the sun came up. Or at least that’s what I thought. 

Still dark out, we head to the birth center where the midwife is already filling up the tub. Her name is Meagan. What a sweet and lovely soul, I think to myself. She gives us a quick rundown of what to expect before checking my dilation. Expecting to be at least 6 centimeters along, I’m ready to hear her tell us we’ll be pushing within the next two hours. 

After checking, she gingerly tells us, “We’re a bit early on, but things could change any second. Especially with subsequent pregnancies.”

Based on her tone, I can tell she’s trying to be gentle with my feelings so I ask exactly how many centimeters. Hesitantly, she answers, “Three. But like I said, with second pregnancies, things could get moving along very suddenly.” Totally dismayed, I look at the clock to see that it’s almost 6 am. I should be further along. How is my cervix only three centimeters dilated? I anticipated giving birth before the sun came up. 

Seeing my silent disappointment, Meagan proposes that we go for a walk. “You might even get to watch the beautiful sunrise”, she adds. I must admit it’s a good idea. This could be our last chance to go for a private walk for a while. 

A Stroll at Sunrise

We drive to a nearby trail beside the Rio Grande River. As we walk, the sun just starts to softly shine through the green leaves of the trees. The crisp and cool air fills my lungs as I walk (or should I say waddle) along the river bank. The morning is calm and quiet. 

Every couple of minutes, I motion for my love to hold me as I breathe through a contraction. Come quickly, I urge my child. 

As we continue along, my love cannot help but make light humor of the situation. “If my grandma knew I was letting you bushwhack your way through the Bosque the day of your labor, she’d kill me.” I laugh myself into another contraction. 

This is how I should’ve known I’m not farther along in my labor. Everything feels too light and pleasant right now. And yet, I can’t help but feel a sense of discouragement.

One of my concerns was getting to the birth center too soon; which we did. It would be different if this had been our first, but it wasn’t. We should’ve waited; I should’ve known better. My love reminds me not to get too caught up on it. “Our baby is going to come soon”, he assures me. Yes, but how soon?

Embracing the Role of Daddy Doula

Following an hour of walking along the river, we head back to the center. The sun is definitely out now. Even though a sweet sunrise birth didn’t happen, it’s possible my daughter will still come this morning. 

After laboring in the room for a while, the midwife recommends another walk. This time in the birth center’s private garden. My love (who has fully embraced the role of “Daddy Doula”) coaches me along as we walk, “Waddle, waddle, waddle. Now lunge!” This continues for another hour. 

The pressure of giving birth before noon intensifies as we approach a change in midwife shifts. Desperation to get this labor progressing before Meagan departs develops; she has done so much for us already. I feel as though I owe her the privilege of delivering our baby. 

When we are finished with our outdoor aerobic exercises, Meagan suggests that we get some rest. The fact I could barely keep my eyes open was probably a clear indication of how drained I was. “This is going to be such a beautiful birth. I can just tell,” she lovingly whispers before leaving the room. We lay down to nap; and when we wake up, Meagan has already gone home. 

A shift in Midwives

The next midwife comes to check the dilation of my cervix a second time. Her name is Yelena. “We better be having this baby today,” she playfully remarks as she enters the room. “I wore my special turban.” 

With all of the walking we’ve done this morning, I anticipate a major change in dilation. To my disappointment, Yelena tells me that we’re a mere five centimeters along. Similar to Meagan, she continues to explain that labor progression can change in an instant with second babies. Then, she facetiously adds that a previous patient was six centimeters dilated for four days straight. 

I feel utterly embarrassed. We have been at the birth center for several hours now and have yet to go into active labor. At this point, I just want to go home but Yelena recommends another walk. Reluctantly, we agree. Remembering what Meagan said before she left, I remind myself: This will still be a beautiful birth. 

Our last Walk

For this walk, we venture from the property a bit to travel along an acequia covered by a canopy of trees. The creeping shadows of the leaves keep us cool as we continue along. The contractions are much stronger now than during the first two walks. 

I try focusing on something else by making light of the situation. “Hey, this is kind of fun; isn’t it, love?” My love shoots me a half-amused look. I know he’s tired too. Neither of us expected labor to drag on for this long. At least the contractions are coming much more frequently than before. 

When we arrive back at the birth center, I sit on the birthing ball for another hypnosis session. The more I relax, the faster my baby will come, I couch myself. Pushing the impatience away, I fall deeper and deeper into a state of deep relaxation. About halfway through the recording, Yelena comes in again to check my dilation. I am desperate to hear her say that we’ll be ready to push soon, but unfortunately that is not the case. 

My cervix has only increased to 6 cm. She recommends nipple stimulation to get things going a bit. The plan is to use an electric breast pump for 30 minutes, then walk for 30 minutes. Sounding like the least invasive intervention, we agree. 

Humbled by God's perfect timing

Once she sets up the breast pump and leaves the room, I look into my love’s sleepy eyes. He doesn’t say anything, but I can tell that he’s worn out. We both are. Perhaps she’s not coming today, after all, I think to myself, feeling defeated as thoughts enter of the hours (or days) of labor ahead. 

The repetitive whooshing sound of the pump drowns out my pessimism. Exasperated, I breathe through another contraction and quietly pray, Oh God, did I rush this birth? Why didn’t I just trust in Your timing? So determined to have a swift and seamless labor, I pushed my natural instincts aside. I actually thought I had the power to control the timing of my baby’s delivery. Who am I to decide the date and time of my child’s birth? Humbled by these thoughts and prayers, I silently resolve to myself, She’ll come when she comes. It’s in God’s hands now. 

With the little energy I have left, I surrender my “perfect timing” of this birth and recall a verse of Scripture, “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.” And I will give you rest, and I will give you rest, and I will give you rest, the smoothing words of the Lord harmonize with the rhythm from the pump.

So Worth the Wait

Following several minutes of pumping, a strong contraction comes on. I quickly motion for my love to hold the flanges to my chest as I breathe through it. A minute later, another contraction; this one even more intense. Rather than quietly breathing through it, I let out a harrowing moan. The contractions are surely getting stronger. 

My love tells me we need to pump for another ten minutes, but I push the flanges away. He insists, “Just a couple more minutes, okay?” I warily agree at first, but the intensity becomes just too great. “We’ll go for a walk after I rest for a bit,” I mumble as I crawl into the bed, searching for some relief from the intensity of the contractions. 

The contractions are coming so quickly that I barely get the chance to re-center my breath. The sound of my moaning draws the midwife into the room, who immediately begins filling up the tub. I realize that I am transitioning from the first stage of labor into the second. Suddenly, the urge to take off my pants arises. The baby is coming now! 

Without delay, the midwife is back with help. As each contraction comes, I try my best to remain quiet but my body demands otherwise. I deeply moan as my child descends lower and lower. “We’re going to meet our baby girl soon!” I excitedly blurt out. The midwife tells me she can see the water bag emerging (as it had not broken yet.) I desperately want to get into the tub for my “ideal” water birth, but Yelena tells me it is not filled up enough yet. 

“I can see her head!” my love exclaims.  Realizing this baby is coming before we get the chance to get in the tub, I ambitiously climb my body out of the bed. The nurse in the room helps me to kneel beside the tub. The relaxing sound of the running water supports my focus as I breathe through the taunting “ring of fire”.

Without meaning to, I let myself roar as one final push releases my child out into the world, breaking the water bag as she emerges. Instantaneously, my sweet baby girl is being held against my chest. A rush of ecstatic emotions floods over me as I embrace and soothe my delicate newborn. My heart whispers to hers, You were so worth the wait.

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